Middle School Clique Influences Child too much

   Question: I'm not very happy that my daughter was in a clique in middle school. The clique seems to dominate everything that she does and is not always a good influence. How should I handle this? -- No Clique Lover
       Answer: Cliques form around social dynamics and usually have a designated leader who decides who is in and who is out. Members of the clique usually follow the leader's rules exclusively. It is not just the kids outside of the clique who worry, as kids currently in the clique are constantly worrying that they will do something and be excluded from the clique -- ending their social life.
       Unfortunately, cliques can be a bad influence when clique members are involved in bullying and teasing, forced to do things inconsistent with their values and have unhealthy rules, such as weight loss. It is important that you talk to your daughter about the negative things the clique is doing. Try to reinforce and promote the virtues of kindness, compassion and respect for others. Help your child learn to speak out when the clique is doing things that she considers to be wrong.
       This summer help her expand her friendships through activities that clique members are not a part of so she will have a larger circle of friends next year in school.